My name is Mike McGinty and I am 24 years old. I have been working as a bartender for three years now, becoming one of the managers at Ninety Nine Bar and Kitchen in Aberdeen two years ago.
Mike goes through to the World Class UK 2012 Finals with his Asian Fusion inspired recipe, the Crystal Collins.
What does the World Class competition mean to you?
World Class is an opportunity to express myself as a bartender on the greatest podium the industry can offer. To get the chance to compete against the best bartenders in the country, and possibly the world, is a privilege.
What is your earliest cocktail memory?
My earliest memory was watching my Dad attempting, well more like struggling, to recreate the perfect Irish Coffee for friends from the States. It took him a good half hour… It was freezing! Nevertheless, his attention to detail and quest for perfection has become some of the foundations of my bartending.
Did you choose the profession or did it choose you?
Well, I wanted to get into bartending for a while when I was at university. I got my first job as a bar back and progressed onto the bar. I never realised the extent that cocktail bartending would take over my life so in that sense it chose me.
How do you think bartending is regarded as a career?
A lot of people regard bartending as a job that perhaps students do in order to pay their way through university. However, bartending at this level is without a doubt a career. There has always been a demand for alcohol in society but now the emphasis is shifting onto better products and service. Therefore the need for well-educated and professional bartenders is becoming a must.
If drink hadn’t entered the equation, what would you like to think you’d be doing now?
I would probably be working in an office nine to five… Sounds repetitive.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I absolutely love the social side of my job. I have met countless number of people over the bar, people who have now become my closest friends. You have one chance to leave an impression on people. I like that chance.
And the hardest?
Where do I start?! To be honest there are lots of hard things about any job. The best thing to do is not to let them bother you.
Who’s the most memorable person you’ve ever created a cocktail for? Who was it, what was it and why does it stand out for you?
I had my family over last Christmas and was inevitably asked to make everyone cocktails. I made my gran a Sherry Cobbler for her first ever cocktail and she loved it. It showed me that there is a drink out there for everyone.
Who’s your favourite cocktail drinker and why? (living, dead or fictional)
Without a doubt, Harry MacElhone. I have a strong passion for the history of cocktail culture. American cocktail culture has been studied to a great depth whereas the British influence is somewhat overlooked. His influence in mixed drinks in the UK, Europe and the US is, in my opinion, second to none. Plus he was Scottish.
What’s the most valuable piece of advice you picked up at the World Class Forum?
I was told that Ron Zacapa XO makes an excellent marinade for salmon! But seriously, Stanislav Vardna’s talk on bartending and customer service was a real eye opener.
What’s your favourite cocktail:
a) to mix?
b) to drink?
Impossible to answer. I have a favourite drink for certain occasions.
c) on your menu?
Between the Sheets
List three ingredients you’d put in a cocktail to sum up the facets of your personality.
What a difficult question… I’d say firstly, a good aged rum because I can be pretty laid back and mellow. Secondly, tequila, as I like to make people happy. And bitters as my personality is made up of a number of different elements that work well together.
You’ve created a World Class cocktail to secure your place in the finals, can you give us a simple failsafe recipe for cocktail lovers to create at home?
I don’t think you can go wrong with an Old-Fashioned. It’s simple and takes little effort to make:
50ml Ron Zacapa 23 (or any aged spirit – whisky, whiskey, brandy or tequila)
2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
3 dashes of Angostura Bitters
Stir the drink over cubed ice until sufficiently diluted and strain into a rocks glass over ice. Garnish with an orange twist.
The recipe that got him through:
50ml Tanqueray No. TEN gin
25ml clear lemon juice
5ml Yellow Chartreuse
Acacia honey & coriander syrup
10ml ginger beer
6 micro coriander herbs
Place six stems of coriander micro herbs and ince into the glass. Add all ingredients into a shaker. Shake and double strain over the ice in a high ball glass. Top with ginger beer. Stir with a bar spoon to disperse the micro herbs. Garnish with a frozen lemon twist and a lemongrass straw.